Career Advice


How to Write a Business Letter 7

Need to write a polished, professional letter? Most business letters follow an established, easy-to-learn format that you can adapt to any type of content. A business letter should always contain the date, information about the sender and recipient, and a few body paragraphs. Follow these steps and modify as necessary to fit your company’s standards.

Steps

Sample Business Letter


Beginning the Letter

  1. Know the format. Whatever the content of your letter, there are a few business standards to follow regarding the way it looks. Business letters should be typed and composed in a common font such as Arial or Times New Roman. Employ block paragraphing. This means that you start a new paragraph by hitting ‘return’ twice. Don’t use indenting for block paragraphs.[1]
    Write
    • Use one-inch margins on all sides.
    • An emailed business letter should also be composed in a common font. Don’t use script or colors other than black and white in a business email.
  2. Choose the right kind of paper. The letter should be printed on 8.5” by 11” (known as “letter size”). If you are outside the U.S., you might use size A4 paper. Some lengthy contracts may be printed on 8.5” x 14” (“legal size”).
    Write
    • If you’re printing the letter to send, consider printing the letter on company letterhead. This lends it a more professional air and provides your company’s logo and contact information.
  3. Include information about your company. List your company name and the company address, with each part of the address written on a different line. If you’re self-employed or an independent contractor, add your name either in place of the company name or above it.
    Write
    • If your company has pre-designed letterhead, you can use this instead of typing out your company and address.
    • If you’re typing out the address, it should appear either right or left justified at the top of the page, depending on you and your company’s preference.
    • If you’re sending the letter to an international location, type out the country in capital letters.[2]
  4. Include the date. Writing out the full date is the most professional choice. For example, write either ‘April 1, 2012’ or ‘1 April 2012.’ This should appear left justified a few lines below the sender’s address.
    Write
    • If you wrote your letter over several days, use the date that you finished the letter.[3]
  5. Add the recipient’s information. Write out the recipient’s full name, title (if applicable), company name, and address in that order, with each piece of information on a separate line. If necessary, include a reference number. The recipient’s information should be left justified a few lines below the date.
    Write
    • It is best to address the letter to a specific person. This way, an actual person will be able to respond to your letter. If you don’t know the name of the person to whom you should send the letter, do a bit of research. Call the company to find out the person’s name and title.[4]
  6. Choose a salutation. The salutation is an important indicator of respect, and which one you use will depend on whether you know the person to whom you’re writing, how well you know them and the level of formality in your relationship.[5] Consider the following options:
    Write
    • Employ ‘To Whom It May Concern’ only if you don’t know whom, specifically, you’re addressing.
    • If you do not know the recipient well, ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ is a safe choice.
    • You may also use the recipient’s title and last name, e.g. ‘Dear Dr. Smith.’
    • If you know the recipient well and enjoy an informal relationship with him or her, you may consider a first-name address, e.g. ‘Dear Susan.’
    • If you are unsure of the recipient’s gender, simply type the whole name, e.g. ‘Dear Kris Smith.’
    • Don’t forget a comma after a salutation or a colon after “To Whom It May Concern.”

Composing the Body

  1. Strike the right tone. Time is money, as the saying goes, and most business people hate to waste time. The tone of your letter, therefore, should be brief and professional. Make your letter a quick read by diving straight into the matter and keeping your comments brief in the first paragraph. For instance, you can always start with ‘I am writing you regarding…’ and go from there.
    Write
    • Don’t concern yourself with flowery transitions, big words, or lengthy, meandering sentences – your intent should be to communicate what needs to be said as quickly and cleanly as possible.
    • Be persuasive in your letter. Most likely the purpose of your letter is to persuade your reader to do something: change their mind, correct a problem, send money or take action. Make your case.
  2. Use personal pronouns. It is perfectly fine to use “I,” “we,” and “you” in your business letter. Refer to yourself as “I” and your reader as “you.”
    Write
    • Be aware if you’re writing the letter on an organization’s behalf. If you are stating the company’s perspective, you should use “we” so that the reader knows that the company stands behind your statement. If you are writing your own opinion, stick with “I.”[6]
  3. Write clearly and concisely. Let your reader know exactly what you are trying to say. Your reader will only respond quickly if your meaning is crystal clear. In particular, if there is some result or action you want taken because of your letter, state what it is. Explain your position in as few words as possible.
    Write
  4. Use the active voice. When describing a situation or making a request, make sure to choose the active voice, rather than the passive voice. The passive voice can make your writing ambiguous or impersonal. In addition, the active voice is more streamlined and straight to the point.[7] For example:
    Write
    • Passive: The sunglasses are not designed or manufactured with attention to their durability.
    • Active: Your company designs and manufactures sunglasses without attention to their durability.
  5. Be conversational when appropriate. Letters are written by people to people. Avoid form letters if possible. You cannot build a relationship with canned impersonal letters. However, stay away from colloquial language or slang such as ‘you know,’ ‘I mean,’ or ‘wanna.’ Keep the tone businesslike, but be friendly and helpful.
    Write
    • If you know the recipient well, it’s fine to include a friendly line sending good wishes.
    • Use your judgement when determining how much personality to reveal. Sometimes adding a little humor is actually helpful in a business setting, but err on the side of caution before making a joke.
  6. Be courteous. Even if you are writing with a complaint or concern, you can be courteous. Consider the recipient’s position and offer to do whatever you can, within reason, to be accommodating and helpful.
    Write
    • For example, a discourteous complaint might read: “I think your sunglasses suck and I am never buying them again.” A courteous complaint might read: “I am disappointed with the construction of your sunglasses, and I plan to take my business elsewhere in the future.”
  7. Use “second page” letterhead for additional pages. Most business letters should be concise enough to be one page in length only. But if you have something lengthier, such as a contract or legal findings, you may need additional pages. Use “second page” letterhead, which usually has an abbreviated address and is made of the same type of paper as the first page letterhead.[8]
    Write
    • Include the page number on the second and subsequent pages, at the top of the page. You may also want to include the recipient’s name and the date.[9]
  8. Wrap it up. In the last paragraph, summarize your points and clearly outline either your planned course of action or what you expect from the recipient. Note that the recipient may contact you with questions or concerns, and say thank you for his or her attention to the letter/matter at hand.
    Write

Closing the Letter

  1. Choose a closing. The closing, like the salutation, is an indicator of respect and formality. ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Sincerely’ is generally a safe bet; also consider ‘Cordially,’ ‘Respectfully,’ ‘Regards’ and ‘Yours Truly.’ Slightly less formal but still professional closings include ‘All the best,” “Best wishes,’ ‘Warm regards,’ and ‘Thank you.’ Use a comma after your closing.
    Write
  2. Sign the letter. Leave about four lines empty for your signature. Sign the letter after you’ve printed it, or, if you’re sending it via email, scan an image of your signature and affix it to this part of the letter. Blue or black ink is preferred.
    Write
    • If you are signing the letter on someone’s behalf, write “pp:” before your signature. This stands for “per procurationem,” which means “by agency” or “on behalf of.”[10]
  3. Include your typed name and contact information. Beneath your signature, type your name, title, phone number, email address and any other applicable means of contact. Give each piece of information its own line.
    Write
  4. Add the typist’s initials. If someone other than the writer typed up the letter, you should add this person’s initials below the signature block. Sometimes, the letter writer’s initials are also included. Then it is clear who worked on this letter.
    Write
    • For example, if you include just the typist’s initials, write them in lowercase: mj
    • If you include the writer’s initials, put these in uppercase with the typist’s initials in lowercase: RW:mj. Some styles add a slash between the two sets of initials: RW/mj.
  5. Make note of enclosures. If you’ve enclosed additional documents for the recipient to review, note this a few lines beneath your contact info by noting the number and type of documents. For example, write: ‘Enclosures (2): resume, brochure.’[11]
    Write
    • You can also abbreviate “Enclosures” by writing “Encl.” or “Enc.”
  6. Add additional recipients’ names. If you are sending a copy of the letter to another person, you should include this on the letter. This is noted by typing “cc:” below the “Enclosures” line, which stands for “courtesy copy”, along with the person’s name and title (“cc” used to indicate “carbon copy” when letters were typed on carbon copy paper).[12]
    Write
    • For example, write: “cc: Mary Smith, Vice President of Marketing”
    • If you are adding more than one name, align the second name underneath the first name, but without the “cc:”

Finalizing the Letter

  1. Edit the letter. Presentation is a key element of being professional. Make sure that the recipient will easily be able to see you as capable and in charge by editing your letter for errors. Run spell check on your word processor, but also give the letter a thorough read before you send it.
    Write
    • Ask yourself whether the letter is clear and concise. Are any paragraphs more than three or four sentences long? If so, determine whether you can eliminate unnecessary statements.
    • If the letter is extremely important, you might want to have a friend or colleague look it over. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can help you catch errors or awkward wording you may not have noticed.
  2. Don’t staple your letter. If you have multiple pages, staples are generally avoided. If you want to ensure that the papers stay in order, then use a paperclip at the top left corner.
    Write
  3. Post the letter. If you’re sending the letter via post, use a business envelope. If available, use one with the company logo printed on it. Neatly print your return address and the recipient’s address. Fold the letter into third parts, such that the recipient will first unfold the top flap, then the bottom flap. Make sure you affix sufficient postage, and send it off.
    Write
    • If you feel like your handwriting is messy and doesn’t match your professional persona, type the addresses in your word processor and run the envelope through your printer.
    • If the letter is extremely important and/or time-sensitive, consider having it delivered by courier.
    • If you want to email the letter, convert the letter in HTML or save it as a PDF to preserve formatting. It is better, however, to send the physical letter.

Tips

  • Use a quality pen to sign the letter.
  • Be prompt. If you cannot respond fully in less than a week, tell the recipient so and note when he or she can expect a response from you.
  • Emphasize the positive. Talk about what you can do, not what you can’t. For example, if a product is out of stock, don’t tell the customer you are unable to fill the order; instead, tell them the product is very popular and you have sold out. Then tell them when you can get the order to them.
  • If you’re writing a complex letter, consider writing an outline first.
    • List out the topics you want to cover. Do not worry about the order.
    • For each topic, list keywords, examples, arguments and facts.
    • Review each topic in your outline for relevance to your aim and audience.
    • Cut out anything that’s not relevant.
    • Sort the information into the best order for your reader.

Warnings

  • Don’t employ too much flattery. A genuine compliment is acceptable, but going overboard will indicate that you have to rely on flattery, not competence, to do your job.
  • Don’t be too blunt and forceful in your tone. Remember, you’re trying to improve or start a professional relationship with a business letter.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found


5 Simple Tips for a Successful Phone Interview 12

You’ve done all you can, prepared a world class professional resume or kick-ass proposal. A few days later you receive a phone call. They are interested in conducting a preliminary interview over the phone.

While the phone is a less common medium for interviews these days, with the advent of Skype and Google Handouts, they are actually still quite prevalent for the busy Recruiter/Hiring Manager/Investor.

You are given a time for the phone interview. Now how do you prepare?

No worries – Here are five simple techniques to ensure your success.

 

Tip #1 for a Phone Interview: Make Sure Your Equipment is Fully Functional.

Chances are, you only use a cell phone so make sure that it is fully charged. You should also make sure that you are in an area with great reception, so if your home has spotty connection issues go to a quiet place where service is guaranteed.

Have your phone compatible earphone or Bluetooth earphone ready and waiting. The phone interview may go on for some time and you don’t want to be holding your phone to your ear for an extended period. Free hands will also come in handy for Tip# 5.

 

Tip#2: Do Your Homework. Research the Company or Investor.

In many ways a phone interview is the same as a face to face interview and the interviewer will be asking many of the interview questions that you are familiar with. Especially, the all-important question “How do you think you can add value?” A good answer to this question requires that you have a firm understanding of what the company’s/Investor’s activities and goals are.

 

Tip #3: Eliminate All Interruptions

You want to concentrate on your interview and you don’t want your interviewer to be assaulted by background noise coming from your surroundings. Therefore, if people have to be around you while you are being interviewed make sure they understand that they have to be silent. Similarly, ask a friend to babysit or take your dog for a walk, if necessary.

 

Tip #4: Don’t Forget To Smile.

Even though the interviewer can’t see you, your body language will still be transmitted.

According to research, persons can differentiate vocal intonation not only between a smile and a non-smile but among different types of smile. “Smiling affects how we speak, to the point that listeners can actually identify the type of smile based on sound alone…”. Not to mention that 84% of the message over a phone is your tone of voice, so making sure that “smiling tone” comes through is imperative.

 

Tip #5: Move Your Body To Increase Energy.

Ever seen those movies where the sales personnel gets up from their desk and walks around in order to close a deal? Well, that’s because walking around, making hand gestures or even standing alone increases passion and energy.

Think about it, when you are arguing passionately, it’s almost impossible to do so without gesticulating. Accordingly, if you want a high energy invigorating successful Phone Interview, make sure to move about.

 

There you have it, five simple Tips for a Successful Phone Interview, now you are ready to land that job or close that deal. Just be confident, you did your homework and you are ready to rock.


The Do’s And Don’ts Of Resume Writing! [Infographic] 1

I love infographic, they are pretty awesome – I even try my hand at making them sometimes but sadly, I’m no artist – can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler sometimes 🙁 So whenever I find a really kool infographic I have to share it here.

resume-infographicIf these tips aren’t enough for you to write your own resume, we can do it for you. Purchase one of our premium professional resume writing services and we will write you a brand new, effective resume – guaranteed to get you more interviews. Contact us today!


5 Steps For Lining Up A Job After College 1

shutterstock_105088016So it’s senior year, you have a few months before you graduate, and you have absolutely no plan for what you’re going to do after you graduate. The idea of being forced to move back home because you have absolutely no source of can be a bit stressful. Before you call up mom and dad or start begging your friends to crash on their couch in exchange for home-cooked meals, have a look at some great ways to help you line up a job once you can’t live the dream of a college student anymore.

1. Actually take a walk to your college’s career office
Surprisingly enough, the people who work here can actually be remarkably helpful in, you know, helping you find a career. It is what they get paid to do after all. The career center is basically your high school’s college counselor on steroids. You’re also not going to be the first one who walks in and says, “I have no idea what I want to do, help.” In fact, you’ll probably be the twentieth that day. Not only do they people who work at the career center know how to help you write a resume and work through various application processes, but they also have a huge list of alumni who are just dying to be taken advantage by twenty-two year old versions of themselves.

2. Make a LinkedIn profile
Social media can actually help get you employed once in a while, though it’s not going to be your Facebook profile picture of you doing kegstands on a Tuesday or your Instagram of you naked on the beach at age two with the caption “Glory days #tbt”. LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/reg/join) can be a great for you to increase your visibility as a potential candidate and to connect you to professionals. The premium version may be a waste of money, but the free version gives you pretty much all the functionality you need.

3. MindSumo
On MindSumo (https://www.mindsumo.com/) companies (read: people who will hire you) post challenges for college students to figure out with creative solutions ranging in everything from reducing food waste in NYC to setting up computer networks in Saharan Africa. They also have a feature that connects users to mentors (read: people who will help you get a job), and if your response to a challenge gets picked as a winner, you make money, usually between $150-250. Not. Too. Shabby.

4. Network with everyone in every place possible
Quit being a germophobe and start shaking everyone’s hands. Usually companies will host networking events on campus (check back on the career office section, they’ll help you find out when and where these are), and these events are one of the best ways to make connections. Show up, steal the free food and sometimes booze, ask a question that makes you seem a lot smarter than you really are, and grab as many business cards as possible. Shoot an e-mail to everyone who talk to and they’ll remember you for your great question. Especially when your resume doesn’t jump out of the pile, having employers be able to place your face to your name is a great way to help land an interview.

5. Do it the old fashioned way
Remember how terrible filling out college applications was? Ready to do that again but for every single company you can possible think of? Perfect. Think of any company who might consider working for and just go to their website and look for the careers page. A lot of companies hire around the time that students graduate, and especially large companies are nearly always hiring. Fill out an application or e-mail their human resources department and hope that your application doesn’t end it up in a hopeless abyss.

Well there go, 5 ways to hopefully maybe get you employed. And if it doesn’t work out, don’t worry, just fail a class or two and take a victory lap. It’ll give you more time to find a job and college is a hell of a lot more fun than working anyway.

Article source

Ask these 5 questions during your next interview 1

Job interviewIf you are anything like me, sometimes after an interviewer has gone over all the details, you can’t really think of anything to say when they ask that inevitable question – “Do you have any questions for us?

Well here are 5 questions to ask during your next interview that will make a great impression on the hiring manager.

1. “How has [the company you’re interviewing for]’s product impacted you directly?”
2. “How would my role affect the business in the short-, medium- and long-term?”
3. “Why did you join [your company]?” In other words, a very polite version of “Why should I want to work here?”
4. “What gets you out of bed every day and excites you to come to work?”
5. “What are the biggest trouble-spots you’re hoping the person in this position can help you with?”

Read the article here for more information and explanation.